Reflection on LAND-at-scale side-event at CLPA 2023: Climate-Resilient Land Use Planning as a Tool for Addressing Land Degradation | Land Portal


During the Conference for Land Policy in Africa (CLPA) which took place in Addis Ababa in November 2023, LAND-at-scale organised the side-event ''Climate-Resilient Land Use Planning as a Tool for Addressing Land Degradation''. The LAND-at-scale (LAS) project partners and their government constituencies from Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda participated in person. The set-up of the session was dynamic with each country first ‘pitching’ how land use planning processes were important in their LAS interventions, and then the government representatives adding to that a perspective from government. In each of the countries, the LAS partners consisting of NGOs and UN organizations, work closely with national or district land use planning officers of the government in carrying out project activities.

Country pitches 

In Rwanda, land use planning is a somewhat more recent activity for which now a long-term vision has been developed. Climate disasters and impact are prominent in the country and therefore climate resilience is a policy priority. Its land use and development master plan aims to concretize this. The goal is to develop 27 Land Use Plans  (LUPs) in the next 2-3 years which is a massive task. Public participation is a crucial element herein, which takes a lot of time and involves both provision of information as well as actual co-creation.

Uganda has the ambition to work on participatory land use planning for increasing climate resilience. Climate resilience is really cross-cutting for them. Recently, tenure responsive land use planning guidelines have been developed that include processes for integrating lessons learned. Sustainable use of wetland areas is a priority interest. Emerging outcomes from the processes include: reduced conflicts in some areas, enhanced ecosystem services, enhanced wetland conservation, synergies between adaptation and mitigation (like afforestation and reforestation). One of the lessons learned is that we often see a focus on technical aspects of Land Use Planning, but the governance aspects is at least as important. For instance, organizing for real participatory approaches can benefit all stakeholders. But building community capacity is critical for making sure the participation is truly inclusive and effective. Overall, a need can be identified for more ‘fit-for-purpose’ approaches to land use planning in order to make the planning processes more suitable for needs on the ground.

In Mozambique, LAS partners work on land use planning at different levels. District governments are supported to integrate climate adaptation and mitigation into land use planning processes in order for communities to become more climate resilient. At community level, the work starts with a risk mapping and gathering of existing maps about land use, precipitation etc. Simultaneously, teams go into the field to do parcel delimitations.  Information about household level and field level are being combined to get an idea of where vulnerable people live, particularly areas prone to cyclones, floodings etc. Communities then design their own land use plans and this information is used to feed District level LUPs.


Main questions and discussion focused on elements related to enforcement of and accountability to LUPs: how to make sure they are actually used and what happens if they are not followed. It was highlighted that both upward and downward accountability are important. Uganda emphasized that decentralization is an important instrument, decentralized structures are better capacitated to do monitoring. In Mozambique, community committees for natural resource management are themselves involved in monitoring the implementation.

Other inputs came on how to organize participation at grassroots level and how to make that truly inclusive. One example given was the use of indigenous knowledge which should be better integrated and taken advantage of in the benefit of everyone. It was also emphasized how truly participatory processes contribute to the enforcement and accountability: the better local needs and priorities are taken into account, the higher the likeliness that communities work in alignment with the LUPs.  A question with which the audience was left with was how to combine the focus of different Ministries, for example land and water. 

Key conclusions

1. Land use planning processes are key in giving shape to national priorities and long-term visions on the ground. At the same time, we see that LUP processes are also an important linkage between land governance and climate resilience. And we have seen that this is indeed the case from the case studies in Mozambique, Uganda and Rwanda. Climate change is happening already and causing big impacts on the ground already, therefore reality in counties is forcing them to deal with the already changing circumstances.

2. A key governance challenge includes: how do you bring national policies to local level; and the other way around: how do you organise community participation. Building community awareness and capacity is a key requirement for due involvement. A link was also highlighted with indigenous knowledge, as shown by the Uganda and Mozambique cases in particular. While community involvement is also linked with enforcement, if community is not involved - you will automatically have issues implementation later on.


Our thanks to our panelists for their valuable input; Lazaro Gumende, Borges Chivambo, Maria Muianga, Ronald Murungi, Simon-Peter Mwesengi, Leonard Kayonga and Marije Louwsma.

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